Festivals have had a special significance in the lives of humans. While it was a reason to extend happiness beyond your own house holds and remember the philosophies of righteousness associated to each festival, today festivals have almost become a day when you take a day off from your busy schedule and spend a day with family and friends. India is known for celebrating lot of festivals, in fact in my region we have some kind of festival, minor or major, almost every week. Diwali is one of the biggest festivals of Hindus and is celebrated with lot a gaiety and fervour in India. Since time immemorial it has been a day to worship Maa Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. It is also the day when Lord Ram came back from 14 years of exile after killing the demon Ravana and was welcomed home with lights in His entire kingdom; since then this festival has become a way to celebrate victory of goodness over the dark powers. It is celebrated every year in the month of October or November, depending upon Hindu calendar.
When I was a kid, Diwali meant a holiday, lots of sweets, crackers and exchanging hand-made greeting card with friends. I had a special attachment with this festival as I loved eating different sorts of sweets and burst crackers but this was also the last holiday of the running academic year after which the teachers would run our classes at rocket speed to finish the syllabus before the approaching final exams and those teachers who had already finished their syllabus would torture us with tests almost every time time-table allowed them. But I have grown up now and no longer worry about going to school and bursting crackers more than my neighbours. Slowly, Diwali has seemed to change its meaning for me. When I was a kid, it was a fun festival meant for kids and today it has an entirely different meaning for me. – it seems the festival has aged over these years. Perhaps the this is the real beauty of this festival – it has something special for everyone of every age group.
Today, more than eating sweets I prefer exchanging them with our friends and relatives. This being a major festival in India, almost everyone takes holidays and come back to their homes from wherever they are; India or abroad. Hence this is the right time to meet people, talk to them, remember old days and get to know more of them. This time I not only met some of friends but also got a change to meet kids who were born when I was away studying, some of my friends got married and could meet their wives. Knowing people gives me a feeling of having an extended family – it gives a sense of pride to know so many people. Everyone greets you, share their happiness. It’s brightness and happiness everywhere which would make you forget your worries and troubles. It assures me that humanity exists, I exist and this Earth is going to exist much longer and I would be remembered by those young kids I met even after I am not in this world; the way I remember some of my elders who are not with us celebrating and sharing joy. While it was about firing and bursting crackers in childhood it is more about lighting lamps that my father used to do when I was a kid. Lamps were just a light emitting source then but today they are more than that. When everyone in the house and neighbourhood join in lighting lamps I feel I am sharing lightness with them and perhaps the darkness in the form of malice would be burnt in the auspicious light of the candles and lamps. When I see kids enjoying the sound of a cracker burst or they gaze at the light of the fireworks I feel a strange happiness, I remember being a child. In fact I feel I am child and join them in the act. I do understand that fireworks means lot of pollution but now we try to buy few crackers and all the children in my neighbourhood pool their crackers and enjoy them for longer time.
On this day I bow with respect towards our ancestors who planned to have all these festivals and associated divine philosophies with them so that we are reminded of goodness and we correct our footsteps to live with love and die with dignity.